Weekend Preview: Great Racing Expected In Michigan & Washington

Top-ranked teams from NCAA DI, NCAA DIII and the NJCAA had their fun this past weekend.

Now it’s time for those movers & shakers in NCAA DII and the NAIA to take center stage.

From The USTFCCCA InfoZone: Meets & Results | USTFCCCA Scoreboard

The postseason isn’t too far away, so top squads are beginning to round into form.

Here are several meets that we have our eye on this weekend.

NCAA DII Pre-Nationals

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Chambers Creek Regional Park is ready for its close-up.

The 930-acre site in University Place, Washington, plays host to the NCAA DII Pre-Nationals on Saturday, as 30 teams will get their only look at the courses for the 2022 NCAA DII Cross Country Championships on December 2. The men will have to wait to run the final 2k since their race is only 8k, while the women see the full 6k allotment in the Evergreen State.

First on the course are the men’s races with the Men’s Open 8k getting underway at 10 am PT, followed 40 minutes later by the Men’s Division II 8k, featuring six nationally-ranked programs. No. 1 Colorado School of Mines highlights that sextet with No. 5 Chico State and No. 10 Western Colorado as the other top-10 squads in the mix. They’ll be joined on the course by No. 20 Western Washington, No. 22 Simon Fraser and No. 25 Cal Poly Pomona.

The Women’s Open 6k goes off at 11:20 am PT, followed by the Women’s Division II 6k at noon. Just one top-10 program is in the field – No. 3 Colorado School of Mines – but four others from the top-30 of the most recent National Coaches’ Poll are entered: No. 11 Western Colorado, No. 12 Chico State, No. 20 Biola (Calif.) and No. 29 Western Washington.

This will be the best opportunity for fans to see those teams’ respective top-7 athletes, as the long season has forced coaches to adapt their training load. Remember that this is a NCAA DII Festival year, which means most fall sports will conduct their championships in the same city.

NAIA Great Lakes Challenge

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A strong field is once again assembled for the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge.

Twenty-six nationally-ranked programs in the most recent NAIA National Coaches’ Polls will compete on Saturday at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

RELATED: Men’s National Coaches’ Poll | Women’s National Coaches’ Poll

They aren’t saving the best for last, because the Women’s Maroon Division 5k is second on the course at 11 am ET with five top-10 squads in the mix: No. 2 Taylor (Ind.), No. 3 Saint Mary (Kan.), No. 4 St. Francis (Ill.), No. 7 Cornerstone (Mich.) and No. 8 Grace (Ind.). OK, we put it lightly. We’ll see three top-5 teams square off, a combination that we haven’t seen in the NAIA ranks this season since the IWU Twilight Invitational back on September 9. That quintet will be joined by eight other top-25 squads: No. 11 Indiana Wesleyan, No. 14 Aquinas (Mich.), No. 17 Huntington (Ind.), No. 19 Carroll (Mont.), No. 20 Cumberlands (Ky.), No. 23 Goshen (Iowa), No. 24 Indiana Tech and No. 25 Rocky Mountain (Mont.).

The Men’s Maroon Division 8k precedes the Women’s Maroon Division 5k at 10 am ET. Three top-10 programs are entered, headlined by former No. 1 and current No. 2 Indiana Wesleyan. No. 6 Saint Mary (Kan.) and No. 8 Grace (Ind.) also reside among the top teams in the nation. Ten other top-25 programs will toe the white line as well: No. 12 Huntington (Ind.), No. 13 Grand View (Iowa), No. 14 Goshen (Iowa), No. 15 Cornerstone (Mich.), No. 17 St. Francis (Ill.), No. 19 Aquinas (Mich.), No. 20 Taylor (Ind.), No. 21 Spring Arbor (Mich.), No. 23 Lawrence Tech and No. 24 Shawnee State.

UCCS Open

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Fans could get a preview of the RMAC Championships on Friday.

That’s because several conference members will descend on the Cherokee Ridge Golf Course in Colorado Springs for the aptly named Colorado Springs Open, hosted by UCCS.

No teams bring more firepower than Adams State, which has the top-ranked women and the second-ranked men in the most recent National Coaches’ Polls. The Grizzlies have been ranked No. 1 in the Women’s National Coaches’ Poll all season long, while the men sat No. 1 from the preseason to Week 2 until rival Colorado School of Mines usurped them in Week 3.

The Women’s 6k is first on the course at 4 pm MT with the Grizzlies squaring off against the fourth-ranked host, an abbreviated team from No. 11 Western Colorado and No. 13 Colorado Christian.

Following that, the Men’s 8k starts at 4:45 pm MT with Adams State facing No. 7 Colorado Christian, an abbreviated team from No. 10 Western Colorado and No. 15 UC-Colorado Springs.